European Tour. Volvo Golf Champions. Louis Lifts Trophy.

 

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Louis Oosthuizen lifts the European Tour Volvo Golf Champions trophy at Durban Country Club in South Africa. A final round of -4 under par 68 was good enough to see off the competition.

Oosthuizen starts 2014 in style

Louis and some local fans / Getty Images

Louis had some nervy moments towards the end of his round, a poor shot on 16 where he was lucky to be able to chip out, but still made bogey, and then he needed to make a birdie on the last to win;

“After my tee shot on sixteen I was lucky that I could chip it out and nearly made a great par. But when I stood over the ball on seventeen I saw that Branden had made birdie on eighteen so I knew that second shot was crucial to give myself a good opportunity and I hit it really close.

“And then eighteen, everyone thinks you just need to make a birdie but around that green it’s not easy and luckily I was far enough past where I could pitch it back into the grain and get it close. It was nerve-wracking through the round but I finished strong and I’m just happy that I got it done. It’s an awesome start for the year. Confidence-wise it’s great. I haven’t really played well last year with all the injuries so hopefully I can build from here on and just go better next time.”

Branden Grace captured second place, he also carded a -4 under par 68 in his final round, finishing with a -11 under par total, one shot adrift. He admitted it was terrible watching Louis pass him on the final green;

 “It was terrible watching it. But the winner at the end of the week is going to be the true champion and he played well so he deserves it. I thought I played some superb golf today. I let a couple slip out there which was unfortunate but if you had told me my first event I would start off with a second place, I would have taken it. This really gives you a push in the right direction so I’m really stoked.”

Tommy Fleetwood was the leader at the start of play, but he unfortunately could only produce a par last round of  72, which dropped him into a tie for third place with Joost Luiten, both at -10 under par.

Tommy said he hit the ball better off the tee, but it was the rest of his game that let him down at the crucial stage;

“Today was the best I have hit it off the tee all week and it was a shame the rest of the game let me down. After the long birdie putt on the second my putter went cold and it was not meant to be. It’s always great when you can be leading going into the final round of such a big event. I could have been four under, shot 66 and finished on the same score and not learned half as much. You have to take the positives and I have finished tied third in the first event and overall it’s been a very good week.”

Padraig Harrington and French duo Raphaël Jacquelin and Victor Dubuisson were another shot back on -9 under par.

European Tour. Volvo Golf Champions. Tommy Fleetwood Tops the Table.

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Tommy Fleetwood tops the table at the European Tour Volvo Golf Champions event at the end of day three on the Durban Country Club course.

 

Tommy Fleetwood  (Getty Images)

Tommy Fleetwood / Getty Images

Tommy Fleetwood managed to grind out a -3 under par 69 on moving day, to lead by shot one at -10 under par going into the final round of the Volvo Golf Champions in Durban.

Tommy said it was a tough course, made worse by him not playing too well;

“It’s a tough course as it is but obviously when you’re not quite on your game it turns into a very, very difficult course. I played four or five really good holes, but obviously the rest of it, I struggled. You miss your tee shots you’re always going to struggle for pars. I made one bogey but the bogey was always coming at some point, so I was quite cool and calm at the end of it.”

 “Three under around this golf course, when you’re not on your game is an absolutely brilliant score, and so I think it’s showing that I’m maturing as a golfer and I can actually score when I’m playing bad, which is one of the most important parts of being a professional golfer. Knowing that you can win and thinking you can are miles apart. That week at Gleneagles I was good at staying focused on my own game because that last round, things didn’t go my way all the time.”  

“I stayed patient and came in good at the end. If you can stay in with a shout with three or four holes to go, you never know what’s going to happen. That’s going to be key, just keep going and stay patient. All we want to do is win golf tournaments. That’s the best reason to win, you beat everybody over the week and it just gives you so much joy. It would mean a lot obviously, and first tournament of the year, and I haven’t played for five weeks. I would be in a very happy way if I could come away with the trophy tomorrow.”

Tied in second place at -9 under par are Victor Dubuisson and Joost Luiten.

Victor also had a very demanding day, due to him not striking the ball correctly;

“I’ve never hit the ball so badly but my short game saved me today. I could have been three or four over. I was a little tired this morning, I didn’t sleep well, and I missed a lot of shots. The win at the Turkish Airlines Open gave me a lot of confidence, but you can still have bad rounds.”

Defending Champion and local favourite Louis Oosthuizen is in fourth place on his own, but it could have been so much better. He was leading the tournament with three holes to play, but clocked up a sad seven on the 16th after hitting his second shot into thick undergrowth and having to declare it unplayable.

Louis was obviously very frustrated at the turn of events;

“It’s frustrating that I finally got my seven birdies, which you need to do around this course, but made too many bogeys. I was not great off the tee and hit a few wayward shots but I’m still happy to be right in there. You don’t want to give yourself unnecessary work and I had the chance to get to 12 under today, so I need to be more focused tomorrow.”

European Tour.Volvo Golf Champions. Three-Way Tie at the Top

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There is a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard after the second round of the Volvo Golf Champions event at Durban Country Club.

Tommy FleetwoodLouis Oosthuizen and Joost Luiten are tied at the top of the Volvo Golf Champions at -7 under par for the tournament. Joost carding a spectacular albatross, ( note it is not a double eagle) at  the par five tenth hole. He  holed his second shot, a four iron  from  248 yards, at the to the 560-yard hole.

Joost Luiten  (Getty Images)

Albatross man Joost Luiten / Getty Images

Joost explained how it went, and the good feelings involved;

“It’s my first albatross,  I hit a good drive down the middle of the fairway, 227 metres left, hit a four iron and basically went straight at it. It pitched exactly where I wanted, just front of the green and released up the slope and straight at the pin and went in. It was a good feeling. “

“I didn’t really do a lot over the winter. I had three weeks off and I didn’t really practice. You never know how you are going to play after that but luckily the game is still all right. The funny thing is yesterday it felt terrible but I was making some good swings today, so that gives you some trust hopefully for the coming days. I want to win again and if you do there’s a Ryder Cup coming up, that’s the main goal.”

Tommy is not thinking of the Ryder Cup at this moment;

“It’s not my motivation at the minute, although it would be a dream come true one day.”It’s the best sporting event in the world but there are a lot of guys ahead of me at the moment.

“The difference between winning at Gleneagles last year and coming fifth that week was a single putt in four rounds. I could have lost in the play-off (with Ricardo Gonzalez and Stephen Gallacher), finished 50th in the order of merit and not played in the WGC event in Shanghai or this week and the difference in mindset would be huge.

“I played in all four Final Series events and played with Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy, and just being surrounded by the big players is a massive learning experience that you can’t buy.”

Padraig Harrington, currently sharing eleventh place at -2 under par, had to contend with his caddie collapsing half way round the course. Regular bag-man Ronan Flood needed medical treatment, and could not continue. Pat Cashman,  a photographer for the Golfing Union of Ireland, and who has known Padraig for around 35 years was in the gallery following his fellow Irishman and stepped in to carry the bag.

Padraig Harrington and stand-in caddie Pat Cashman  (Getty Images)

Padraig and Pat / Getty Images

Pat said in interview;

“The bag was lighter than I expected. It was very comfortable. I saw Ronan on the range and he looked awful. I said if you need help, call me. They sent out a replacement caddie but Padraig asked if I would be happy to continue and I was. I told him I wouldn’t give him a line or a club but he was so easy to work for. I’ve given him my phone number if he needs me but hopefully Ronan will be okay.”

Padraig spoke about his stand-in caddie;

“He started off like he was carrying bows and arrows but by the end he had the double-strap going (on the bag) and was using all the lingo. It’s amazing how much caddies do for you and it gives you a new appreciation for what they do out there. I know now why we pay them the big bucks!”

European Tour. Volvo Golf Champions. Jacquelin Jumps Ahead.

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Raphael Jacquelin jumps ahead after the first round of the European Tour event at the Durban Country Club.

 

 

Raphael Jacquelin  (Getty Images)

Raphael Jacquelin / Getty Images

The conditions were blustery but that did not stop Raphael from carding a first round of -5 under par 67, to lead the Volvo Golf Champions by one shot.

Raphael said he was happy with his bogey free effort;

“I managed to get everything right, a bogey-free round; that’s the key, to go bogey-free every round on this course. It’s a new year and pretty good way for me to start, so that’s great.”

Defending Champion Louis  Oosthuizen is just one shot behind, after he recovered from a poor start, a bogey on the first hole, to score -4 under par 68.

Another shot further back, on -3 under par, sharing third place are Darren Clarke and Victor Dubuisson. A now slimline Darren, who has lost three stone in weight over recent months, delivered birdies on the second, eighth, tenth, 14th and 18th. He mentioned his new look;

“It’s something, I took a look at myself in October and thought it’s time to make a change. I am feeling strong. I reached 10 today, whatever it was, hit it 300 off the tee into the wind and hit driver from 285 to 12 feet and I couldn’t have reached there maybe five, six months ago.  So hopefully it will pay off.”

Colin Montgomerie is playing well and finished his first round at -2 under par with his opening round of 70. Colin said he struggles on the longer courses, so chooses his events carefully;

“I was playing well at the end of last year and I started to play a lot more golf. I had not been having much fun on 7,500-yard courses on the main tour but I am a member of three tours now (European Tour and two seniors tours) and it’s given me more freedom to choose courses I can get round. It’s very difficult and tricky out there, the wind was coming off the sea and made every hole a crosswind. You have to be very careful, you can make a mess out there in a hurry.”

Asides

I would love to see Volvo join the campaign to stop South Africa killing endangered species like Lion, Elephant and Rhino in penned in areas, just for the fun of rich tourists. It’s called canned hunting, the operators breed these animals and put them in penned in areas for tourists to shoot them, and it is legal. It is time to stop the killing of these creatures.

Volvo Golf Champions, Awesome Oosthuizen Wins

Louis Oosthuizen   (Getty Images)

Louis Oosthuizen / getty images

Louis Oosthuizen won the Volvo Golf Champions tournament in South Africa at the Durban Country Club on Sunday. He shot an awesome last round 66,  -6 under par, for a -16 under par total, to win by one shot from Scott Jamieson, who could only manage a par round of 72, and watched as the title slipped through his fingers, he finished at -15 under par.

This win is Louis’ sixth European Tour title and one that elevates him to a career-high fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking, pushing England’s Justin Rose down to fifth in the world.

In interview Louis said;

” It was a great week, a lot of things happened. It’s a great start to the year, I knew I had to come out and get my name up there. After being five down, to make it up after 12 holes, I was really chuffed about that. I just played really well all day.”

Scott Jamieson had no shame in losing out to a Major Champion, but was annoyed about his double bogey on hole 5:

“Louis is a Major Champion, there’s no shame in losing to him, I gave it my all, but it wasn’t to be. The double bogey was a kick in the teeth, but I had tons of chances and couldn’t take them.”

Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand secured  third place at – 14 under par, closing with a round of 68, with Ireland’s Padraig Harrington also closing with a -4 under par 68, to climb to fourth position on his own at -12 under par for the tournament.